Agrobusiness/GM food

A Permanent People’s Tribunal investigating giants of the pesticide and biotech industry for gross violations of human rights is currently in session in Bangalore, India from 3-6 December.

Streaming is intermittent; so follow the twitter updates below.

At first, it was just the whisperings of a few who could easily be dismissed as crazies, but now it has become too big to ignore. The United Nations has confirmed that honey-bee colonies are mysteriously disappearing across the globe.

After first being noticed in the US and Europe, the disappearance of managed bee colonies has spread to China, Japan and Egypt.

Why are bees important? They are pollinators and they are even more crucial now when there are mounting concerns about food sufficiency.

Cables released by Wikileaks have exposed United State diplomatic efforts to strongly back the corporate push for GM crops to be accepted in Europe and elsewhere.

Not only that, the US diplomats under the Bush administration recommended retaliatory action against a list of ‘targets’ in Europe for failing to embrace GMOs. In a leaked cable, US Ambassador to France Craig Stapleton wrote:

Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory.

For the past couple of days, I have been going in and out of a global conference in Penang on forests, biodiversity, community rights and indigenous peoples organised by Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific.

The theme “Ecological equity: Sharing the stories, reclaiming our rights” couldn’t have been more timely. Listening to the heart-rending stories from indigenous representative and activists from places such as Philippines, Uganda and Bolivia, I realised that the indigenous groups in Sarawak who are struggling to protect their native customary rights land are not alone.

The plan to introduce GM mosquitoes in Malaysia will not be implemented “at the moment”.

“Seemingly it is quite an interesting (solution) to deal with such a problem but I think… not until and unless every aspect of research being carried out is clinically tested and… environmental issues have been addressed,” AFP reported Muhyiddin as saying.

That is of course welcome news; good sense has prevailed. Now can we look into eliminating the breeding sites of the aedes mosquito? It was shocking to hear that a spot check for dengue breeding grounds by the authorities found the Penang Hospital compound teeming with aedes mosquitoes and larvae, as reported in theSun.

They invested RM22 billion in the hope of hitting a ‘gold mine’. And now they have almost zero production.

That’s the fate of the Malaysian biodiesel industry players, which have an installed capacity of 2.6 million tonnes. Read The Star report here.

And now, guess what, they are asking the government for subsidies. How do you like that? Didn’t they factor in the various risks? I still remember a business weekly gushing about the prospects of the biofuel industry and the big moves planned by the various players.